HOME IN FOCUS: CELEBRATING THEIR ABILITIES

Helping to sow a love for gardening among S'poreans

MR TAN WAI LOON, 39, Instructor assistant at APSN Centre for Adults

Work starts at 8am for Mr Tan, but he makes his way every day from his home in Choa Chu Kang North to the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) Centre for Adults at the Kembangan-Chai Chee Community Hub in Eunos an hour earlier, just so that he can open the doors and prepare for the day ahead.

He has worked with APSN for 20 years, starting out as a general worker before he was promoted to instructor assistant.

He received a long-service award in September.

"I love my work because I am able to earn money and help provide for the family," says Mr Tan.

The centre helps adults with mild intellectual disabilities find jobs. Every year, it trains about 150 of them in skills such as cooking and being a cashier.

Mr Tan has a mild intellectual disability, a hearing disability and speech impairment. But he is known among his colleagues for his dedication, optimism, helpfulnessand his green thumb.

EARNING HIS KEEP

I love my work because I am able to earn money and help provide for the family.

MR TAN WAI LOON

He became interested in gardening about 10 years ago and has since been helping the centre with its horticulture and grass-cutting programme.

Mr Tan does jobs that are too complex for the trainees, such as maintaining the centre's vertical farm and weed area, and grass cutting.

He also guides a group of about 15 students per class to work on transplanting, germination, harvesting, weighing and packing of vegetables.

For his help in fostering a love for gardening among Singaporeans, Mr Tan was recognised in 2013 as a Community in Bloom ambassador by the National Parks Board.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2017, with the headline 'Helping to sow a love for gardening among S'poreans'. Print Edition | Subscribe